Schwarten fails again on school asbestos removal

21 Jun 2010 2:31 PMJann Stuckey

19 June 2010

A review into a series of incidents that exposed Mackay school students to asbestos has revealed the Bligh Labor Government failed to act on sloppy handling procedures despite previous warnings, the State Opposition said today.

LNP Shadow Minister for Public Works Jann Stuckey said the damning independent report had been released less than 12 months after an incident at a Gold Coast school had resulted in a swathe of recommendations to prevent further unsafe practices.

“Despite strong warnings in June last year, Minister Schwarten failed to implement effective procedures for the safe removal of material containing asbestos in schools,” Ms Stuckey said.

“Just like the incident at Caningeraba last year, this latest report exposes major flaws in basic communication and adherence to policies and procedures.

“QBuild is the lead agency for maintenance of Government buildings, including schools, yet in September last year only 56 per cent of QBuild staff held a Class B asbestos removal license.

“My calls for a higher standard of training forced the Minister to announce the development of an ‘asbestos awareness course’ but it is clear they have still not learned from past lessons and are dragging their feet on this serious issue.

Ms Stuckey said the Government had once again announced its “zero tolerance” for poor asbestos procedures, but the claim was hard to believe considering Bligh and Labor’s record.

“How can we trust the Bligh Labor Government to act on any of these recommendations when the Minister was told about similar concerns in the past?

“Until Minister Schwarten pays closer attention to ensuring appropriate procedures are in place and they are followed by his own department, these incidents will keep occurring in Queensland schools.”

 Media Contact: Jann Stuckey 0439 755 919